Traveler’s confession: I absolutely hate flying. The long waits, the delays, the cabin pressure, the stiff seats, the tiny washrooms…is there anything good about flying other than landing somewhere new? Next Thursday I’ll be in the air for 15 hours before landing into Shanghai for an overnight layover, followed by a 7 hour flight into Bali. I’m not looking forward to it but I understand it’s a necessary evil.
I’ve been on many flights in my time and while it never seems to get easier, I’ve found ways to
cope survive and pass the time.
1. Fully charge all electronics before you board
Some planes offer in-seat power but it’s always wise to come prepared. Charge all electronics to full battery before you board and use it on energy saver mode to conserve battery power.
2. Sit in the emergency exit row
It’s the next best row after business. All that leg room to stretch out and make yourself comfortable — airplane luxury!
3. Take the window and aisle seat if you’re traveling as a pair
If the emergency exit row seats are filled and you’re traveling with a buddy, try seat blocking. This is a tactic Andrew and I use and it can pay off huge. Here’s how it can play out:
Scenario #1: no sane person voluntarily sits in the middle seat between strangers if they have other options. If no one books the middle seat, you’ll have it to yourselves to stretch out in.
Scenario #2: someone is sitting in the middle seat but if they see a window or aisle seat available, there’s a good chance they’ll move and you’ll get a free seat between the two of you.
Scenario #3: The plane is packed and someone is sitting in the middle. You can stay in the window and aisle seat, or offer one to middle guy so you can sit beside each other (there’s no doubt he’ll accept). Someone has to sit in the middle but hey, at least you tried.
4. Dress the part
Comfort is key when you’re stuck in a seat for 10 hours. I never fly long-haul wearing jeans; instead, I opt for workout leggings, a breathable cotton t-shirt, workout bra (or anything without wires), sneakers, and a non-constricting sweater. A light jacket may also come in handy if it gets cold.
5. Kill time with meal time
I never sleep through meal time or get nudged to wake up for it. I’ll be groggy and may skip eating altogether, or I scarf it down so I can go right back to sleep. Between watching the flight attendants make their way down the aisle, eavesdropping on what other people are ordering, and playing food Tetris on the tiny airplane trays, it’s a good hour and a half that gets killed off right there. So I always try to be conscious for it and stop what I’m doing as soon as I hear the trolley roll down the aisle.
6. Find a book you can’t put down
A good book can suck me in for hours. Read the first chapter or two of the book you’re planning to read on the plane beforehand. If it’s a page turner, you’ve got a winner. If it doesn’t rope you in, find another one that does. You don’t want to gamble on your reading material.
7. Find a series to binge watch
A long flight is a great time to start watching a brand new show, so see what your in-flight entertainment has to offer. Re-watching your favourite show is also good, as I found with my Cathay Pacific flight offering Game of Thrones (which I’m sure the violence-sensitive passengers sitting behind me appreciated).
8. Complete administrative tasks
Never in the course of normal life would I ever have the time to file all my emails or delete photos that are taking up space on my phone. When you have nothing but time and will do anything to maintain sanity, finding some busy work might just be the low mental stimulation you need.
Flying is incredibly drying. Don’t forget to drink lots of water — buy the biggest bottle you can find at the airport or else you’ll be at the mercy of a flight attendant fetching you one puny cup at a time.
10. Freshen up
Pack a toothbrush and face wash in your carry-on so you can freshen up after breakfast, a long nap, or when you need a pick-me-up. It’s a good energy boost, especially on a red-eye flight.
The best killer of time there is on a plane. I know it’s hard to sleep on a plane but you just need to find ways to make yourself as comfortable as possible. An eye mask and ear plugs will help dull the senses and a travel pillow will prevent head bobs and neck strain. Medicate yourself if you must but for a more natural option, try an essential oil like lavender or take melatonin.
How do you get through a long-haul flight?